I have been noticing a disturbing trend in society and education lately. I suppose I am primarily disturbed because I see the trend being inforced in technology. It seems that nearly every major business from government on down has some sort of voice activated response system meant to expediate your calls and save you time. Not only does this eliminate jobs and minimize human contact, since most of these systems don’t offer the choice of speaking to a live person, but these systems are actually programmed to only understand lazy speech. I had the benefit of being homeschooled through elementary school and enunciation was drilled into me from an early age. When I get on these voice activated systems, I am forced to almost slur my words before the computer correctly identifies what I am saying. This is very frustrating and actually takes more of my time.
I have noticed the same trend in touch screen technology. I have a Nintendo DS and one of the games that I like playing is called Puzzle World. It has over 1000 different puzzles from Sudoku to crosswords and requires you to write the letters and numbers on the touch screen using a stylus. I found that the only way to get the game to recognize the symbols was to wirte them as lazily as I could. I nearly groaned as I realized that my handwriting on the game had to be similar to what a teacher would hand back and make me rewrite when I was in school.
I can always tell when I am texting with someone who either completed high school before texting became a common method of communication or has gone to college and furthered their education. These are the precious few whose texts I don’t have to translate because they use real words. When I was in school, we were taught that your speech and handwriting say a great deal about your intelligence level and we strove to portray ourselves well in both of these avenues. I have seen some applications that were nearly illegible, the only reason that they could be remotely understood was because the applicant had filled it out almost entirely in text speech.
My child will be an outcast in the society in which she comes to maturity. She will learn to speak properly, and will know the value of a well written sentence. She will know what hard work means, and that there are consequences for her actions. As a society we have drifted away from these simple values in an effort to make a childs life pleasant and worryfree. By doing so we have robbed ourselves of an educated and ethical future generation. Our parents and grandparents knew these thing, and those of us who were lucky learned them from our elders. Can the next generation stumble across these values on their own and become who they need to be for society to move forward? Or will Ayn Rand be proven a prophet? Does Atlas need to shrug to shake some sense into the world? Will John Galt finally show his face? What can we do, we precious few who see the trends and worry?